Teens fight their way through ‘Twelfth Night’

July 30, 2014 11:00 AM

Fran Simon

Burton Tedesco trains teens in stage-worthy fighting

Burton Tedesco, left, fight director for the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, instructs New Orleans teens Carli Kirtland and Joe Angelette in stage-worthy fight skills. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

“All of the students are on stage at once, playing multiple roles … We encourage them to be unique, to not be afraid to be silly.” — Chaney Tullos, New Orleans Shakespeare Festival

A troupe of six New Orleans teenagers may have a fighting chance to become actors. In addition to stage-worthy fight training, they are honing their chops speaking Shakespearean lines as they rehearse a one-hour adaptation of the comedy classic, Twelfth Night.

As participants in the Gavin Mahlie All Things Shakespeare Program at Tulane University this summer, experienced actors are coaching them. 

The Tulane Department of Theatre and Dance tag-team of Jessica Podewell, an assistant professor, and Chaney Tullos, director of operations, are guiding the summer program, which is central to the educational mission of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, they say.

The fast-paced, one-month program gives the young thespians a workout on campus each day and also requires homework. 

“There’s a huge amount of discipline that we have to instill,” Podewell says. “They have to go home after working seven hours a day and keep chewing away at this … not because they have to, but because they want to.”

The students had to go through an audition process to become part of the troupe. This production of Twelfth Night will give each student a chance to shine under the professionally designed lights. 

“This play really is for 12 actors, so all of the students are on stage at once, playing multiple roles,” Tullos says. “We encourage them to be unique, to not be afraid to be silly. It’s why I love teaching.”

Podewell chimes in, “It’s why I love theater!”

Performances of Twelfth Night are Thursday (July 31) through Sunday (Aug. 3) on the Tulane uptown campus. Tickets are $12 for students and seniors, and $15 for the general public.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu